Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Hiatus for the site


For the time being, TMNT Entity is going to be on hiatus.  My apartment was robbed and my PC was stolen, so I won't be able to do any updates until I get a new computer.  All my digital files of obscure TMNT comics (mostly the UK and manga stuff) are lost, too, though I might be able to get some of them back from the individuals who donated them to be in the first place.  None of my physical books were stolen, thankfully.  But they also got my TV, so that means no cartoon/movie reviews, either.

Also, all the other shit I have to do including moving to a safer neighborhood, covering identity theft, paperwork and everything else that's going to eat up every minute of free time I have.

Sucks, but that's the way it is.  Comments also will probably not be published since I won't be able to moderate them for spam.  It'll probably be a few weeks before things get back to normal.

Thanks,

PS:  I read the first issue of TMNT/Ghostbusters 2 #1 and it was really good.  So check that miniseries out this month. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

TMNT (IDW) #75


Publication date: October 25, 2017

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Cory Smith, Mateus Santolouco, Chris Johnson, Damian Couceiro
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee 
Edits: Bobby Curnow

"The Trial of Krang, Part Three"

Summary:

In Dimension X, Queen Maligna unleashes the full fury of her Malignoid Swarm on the planet Neutrino.  Triceraton Commander Zom orders her fleet to take the front line and they're flanked by Zak, Kala, Ace Duck and a fighter unit he convinced to join his cause.  Unfortunately, the Swarm is so huge, many Malignoids slip through.


On the surface of the planet, Dask rallies an army of Neutrino soldiers to defend the capital.  He outfits the Leonardo, Raphael and Michelangelo with armor, jet-packs and energized weapons so they can help fight.

Meanwhile, Donatello and the Fugitoid guard the witnesses until the trial of Krang can resume.  B'een gives off an early warning, but too late, as Hakk-R bursts in and attacks, outmatching Donnie one-on-one.  Luckily, Polly's pollen blast stuns him and he runs back into Judge Gorath's quarters (where he'd killed the judge, earlier).  Anemon out-muscles the weakened Hakk-R and subdues him just as Malignoids begin to invade the chamber.  Leatherhead takes out some while the other Turtles swoop in and destroy the rest.


Knowing they'd need a plan to stop the invasion at its source, Donnie gets an idea from Polly's pollen.  He asks if she could release all of her pollen at once, and she reveals that she can, but doing so would put her into a coma and she would have to return to her homeworld to rejuvenate.   Donnie then convinces Stump to make a deal with Hakk-R who begrudgingly accepts.

Hakk-R then teleports onto Maligna's mothership and releases polly's pollen into the vent system.  The hallucinagen causes Maligna to panic and withdraw her Swarm, ordering them to retreat.  As the battle concludes, Donnie tells the others that he had Stump promise Hakk-R double what Krang was paying him, plus lifetime box tickets to Grappleganza.


The next day, the trial resumes, though King Zenter is called to preside in place of the late Judge Gorath.  Leatherhead is called to the stand to testify and he relates the story of his origin and imprisonment on Earth by General Krang.  His grievance has less to do with Krang's penchant for destruction but is instead aimed at his recklessness with creation, as Leatherhead resents being a freak of nature with cognizance of his existence.

General Krang is finally called to the stand and he defiantly admits to all of his actions, but proceeds to defend them.  He insists that everything he did was for the survival of the Utrom race and asks King Zenter if he would not go to the same lengths to protect the Neutrino people.  Closing statements are then made, as the Fugitoid relates the death of his family and his transformation at the hands of Krang and claims that there is no justification for genocide.  The defense reiterates that Krang did what he had to do to save his people from extinction and that there is no way to play nice in war.

King Zenter leaves to ponder his verdict and the Turtles, royal family and witnesses are allowed into the courtroom to watch the verdict be delivered.  Zenter soon returns and says that due to conflict of interest, he cannot pass judgment on Krang or sentence him on his own.  Instead, he sought counsel from Ma'Riell of the Utroms, who has agreed to imprison Krang for life on Burnow Island, Earth.  Lieutenant Kleve and Corporal Montuoro then enter through a portal to take Krang into custody.  Enraged at the verdict, Leatherhead promptly EATS Krang and then escapes to Burnow Island through the portal.


The two startled Utrom guards admit to King Zenter that perhaps a quick death was a better end for the General than a lifetime in confinement and return to Burnow Island.  Once there, they curse Leatherhead for taking their true leader from them and vow not to let Ma'Riell know what has happened.  Instead, they will work to revive Colonel Ch'Rell and finish Krang's work.

Back on Neutrino, Zak and Kala gather up the witnesses and help them all get home.  The Fugitoid decides to stay behind and help his people build a better defense against the Malignoids.  Dask then helps the Turtles teleport back home.

Meanwhile, the royal family contacts Commander Zom to tell her that their bargain will be honored.  Wanting to right the wrong the Utroms inflicted on the Triceratons by taking them from their homeworld long ago, he offers to teleport them all back to their proper dimension so they can return to Earth, where they belong.  Zom and her forces then cross through the portal and disappear.  Zenter hopes that all Earthlings are as kind as the Turtles and will find a place for their long-lost brethren.

On Earth, the EPF gets a warning of the invading Triceraton fleet and Agent Bishop is called to action.


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (IDW) #74.  The story continues in TMNT (IDW) #76.

*The events of the TMNT/Ghostbusters 2 miniseries take place between this and next issue.

*To celebrate the release of the 75th issue of the series, IDW partnered with local comic shops for a TMNT Day event.  It was not widely promoted and very few shops in the country participated in the events.  The TMNT Day 2017 Sampler special was released as a giveaway alongside this issue.

*This issue was originally published with 14 fucking variant covers: Cover A by Cory Smith and Ronda Pattison, Cover B by Kevin Eastman and Tomi Varga, Retailer Incentive by Ben Bates, AOD Collectibles Exclusive by Hal Laren, Comics and Ponies Exclusive by Eastman and Varga, Fried Pie Exclusive by Veronica Fish, Giant Robot Exclusive by Casey Coller, Knowhere Games & Comics/Brave New World Exclusive by Deth P./Jesse Heagy and David Baron, TMNT Day Exclusive by Jon Lam, Planet Awesome Collectibles Exclusive by Eastman and Joe Sinnot, Planet Awesome Collectibles Exclusive black and white version, Planet Awesome Collectives Exclusive by Humberto Ramos, and Planet Awesome Collectibles Exclusive blank sketch cover.


Review:

I can say that this finale to "The Trial of Krang" left me wanting for nothing.  While the Turtles sort of sat out the previous installment, they got lots of action throughout this double-length finale.  The witnesses, too, got their licks in and I don't feel anyone was particularly shortchanged.

The first thing I feel I should address is how they handled Hakk-R in this conclusion.  He was introduced as being this unstoppable badass, but throughout the Dimension X miniseries, he got his ass kicked so much he sort of turned into a gag villain.  I was curious how he was going to be portrayed in this finale; if his decay in threat would be acknowledged, and if so, how they would work that out.  There's a happy compromise, as Hakk-R only goes up against Donatello in a solo match, and while Hakk-R may not be much of challenge for the Turtles in a group anymore, he can still trounce them one at a time.  Polly winds up being the hero of that confrontation, in something of a surprise, and then Hakk-R and Polly kinda-sorta team-up to be the REAL saviors of the battle!

Actually, all the witnesses get their chance to contribute, with B'een sounding an alarm, Amenon and Eyemo subduing the poisoned Hakk-R and Stump using his influence to convince the mercenary to switch sides.  And then there's Ace Duck, who skips out on the trial to fight the battle up in space.  No one introduced throughout this rather long arc gets left behind and this is a conclusion that definitely feels like the sum of all its parts.

I suppose the only character who gets a bit skipped over is Queen Maligna.  She's been a looming threat since this arc began, but she only appears for a few pages and is dispatched in a rather easy fashion.  But in this case, I see her as being more of a tease for a future storyline; whenever the Turtles decide to return to Dimension X, she'll be the Big Bad that's waiting for them.  And anyway, Krang using her to hedge his bets was a nice callback to TMNT Adventures #12, when he did the same thing.

The trial gets its due attention at the end of the book and the drama doesn't let up.  Zenter taking Gorath's place was a great example of misdirection, luring the reader into assuming what his verdict would be only to give us something that we didn't even know was an option at the end.  He's guilty, yes, but not to be sentenced by the Neutrinos, but by the Utroms.  When Kleve and Montouro show up, you start to guess that we won't be seeing the last of Krang and then CHOMP.  Nah, he's dead.

THAT was a kickass shocker and I ain't even a little bit mad.  I think Krang's gotten about all the attention he deserves in the IDW series and the trial was a natural conclusion to his arc.  And even so, with Ch'Rell waiting in the wings, we know that Krang's work isn't finished even if he's currently nothing but fragments in Leatherhead's stool.  I'm curious how Ch'Rell will be characterized in this series to differentiate him from Krang, but we've probably got a long wait to see how that rolls out.

Zenter's naivete in turning the Triceratons loose on Earth was maybe a bit annoying, but when his only encounter with Earthlings was through the Turtles, I can see how he'd make the mistake that we're all as goody-goody as they are.  Still, he maybe should've asked the Fugitoid for some counsel on human nature before setting a warrior race and their fleet of destruction on an unsuspecting planet.  The next arc should be a good one.

Also, Commander Zom is apparently female.  That makes her the SECOND female Triceraton in the franchise's history, coming in behind General Zera from the Half-Shell Heroes: Blast to the Past cartoon.  Maybe someday we'll be able to count the number of female Triceratons on more than one hand.  Maybe in another 30 years.

Anyhow, while I found the Dimension X miniseries stretch of this arc to be a little uneven, I think the ongoing's chapters of "Trial of Krang" were all superb.  As a "milestone" issue, #75 perhaps lacks the game-changing feel of TMNT #50, but it still ends up being suitably big in terms of what it does to the landscape of the universe (or multiverse, I guess).  Now, we all just have to dig in for that long march to TMNT #100.  Can't wait.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

TMNT Day 2017 Sampler


Publication date: October 25, 2017

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow and Tom Waltz
Art: Mateus Santolouco, Dan Duncan, Sophie Campbell, Cory Smith, Michael Dialynas, Dave Wachter, Pablo Tunica, Chris Johnson, Kari Randolph
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Assistant Editor: Chase Marotz
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Publisher: Ted Adams
Cover: Mateus Santolouco

Contents:

*A summary of the IDW TMNT comic's major narratives up to the "Trial of Krang" storyline.  Art is recycled and rearranged from existing issues with new narrative captions overlaid.


Turtle Tips:

*This sampler comic was given away free at select comic book shops in the United States during their TMNT Day 2017 promotion.

*IDW has made a .pdf version of the sampler available online HERE.


Review:

This is going to be a sort of "non-review" because I don't actually own this thing.  And I don't think a lot of people do, either.  The TMNT Day 2017 promotion wasn't very well... promoted, and so only a handful of comic shops in the US actually knew anything was going on.  I went over to my local shop on my lunch break today and got nothing but blank stares when I asked about it.  They hadn't received any notifications about the event from IDW, nor any solicitations for the sampler books to give away.  My shop owner's exact words after I explained what the fuck TMNT Day 2017 was to him were, "Well, they sure botched that promotion."

But hey, if you got one of these, cool!  And if you're like me and didn't, I don't mean to sound like sour grapes or anything, but it isn't that big a deal.  This wasn't like one of the Free Comic Book Day specials where they mix reprints with new content; this was 100% reprints.  So unless you're an absolute completionist, don't beat yourself up over missing it.

Chances are, this is the first you're even hearing about the thing, anyway.  Happy TMNT Day, everybody!

EDIT: Oh hey, look at that.  IDW put a .pdf of the thing up on their website.  That was courteous of them!  Guess I'd better turn this non-review into a review-review.

At 18 pages, it's almost a full-length comic, but with all the narrative text summarizing the series highlights, it reads twice as long as a full-length comic.  You might get more mileage out of this free sampler than from a $3.99 issue of the main series!

Whoever did the layout isn't credited, but they did a nice job taking all the panels from misc. issues and tessellating them in a coherent fashion.  I wonder if it's the same person who does that for the Free Comic Book Day special recap sections?  Whoever they are, they're good at it.

Okay, so there is ONE part that looks a little cheesy...


It's like one of those title cards for an animated short from the 1930s, where they put the character's head in a circle above their name.  "Leon Schlesinger Presents... A Herman the Hermit Crab Cartoon!"

There are two bonus pages at the end that kinda-sorta push this thing into the 20-page standard comic length.  It's an update of the IDW TMNT trade paperback reading order.  The thing is getting a little cluttered with their current formatting, but if you eschew MY humble attempts to assemble such a resource, then it still comes in pretty handy.

Weirdest thing about it is that it claims that the Batman/TMNT miniseries is part of the series canon.  I... wouldn't put a whole lot of stock in that, personally.  Ignoring the statements from the editor that the miniseries is non-canon, the IDW trade paperback reading order places it after TMNT (IDW) #50... when the Shredder is supposed to be dead.  Yeah.  They likely just wanted to advertise the thing, and who can blame them?  Canon or not, it's still really good.

Anyhow, this thing was "neat" but you've got to be a pretty hardcore collector to go out of your way to get one, assuming your shop didn't participate in TMNT Day (and they probably didn't).  Shit, man, even I'm not that hardcore of a collector and I own a copy of TMNT Meet the Conservation Corps.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

TMNT Universe #15



Publication date: October 18, 2017

Writer: Erik Burnham, Sophie Campbell
Artist: Sophie Campbell
Colorist: Brittany Peer
Letterer: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Publisher: Ted Adams

"Karai's Path, Part 4"

Summary:

MAIN STORY:

Hundreds of years ago, the gods gave mankind a weapon called the Kira no Ken.  When the gods demanded it back and mankind refused to relinquish it, the gods cursed the weapon and all who would use it.  To keep it safe, the Foot Clan hid it away for centuries.


The present.  Karai uses the Kira no Ken to subjugate Ocho, promising to help her return to her true form so long as she serves loyally.  Ocho accepts the terms and digs Karai, Koya and Bludgeon out of the cave.  Upon surfacing, Bludgeon notices that Koya has taken one of the talismans from the cave, but before the matter can be pressed, he smells blood.  The four find all of Toru's men slaughtered by Toshiro and Natsu.  Natsu tries to make peace with Karai and Karai is willing, but only after she shoots Natsu in the shoulder to even the score.  Karai then tells Natsu that she will be getting vengeance on Toru for his ruse and Natsu agrees to help.


With Natsu's aid, Karai infiltrates Toru's tower.  The mutants deal with all the mob goons, while Karai chases Toru.  He seals himself inside a panic room and taunts her, assuring her that nothing could get in after him.  Karai uses the Kira no Ken to cut through the reinforced metal door.  She tells Toru that she will be seizing all his assets, including his place in Tokyo's criminal underworld.  Toru warns her that using the Kira no Ken will come at the cost of her soul, but Karai just cuts his head off.


A few weeks later, Karai calls a meeting of all the heads of Tokyo's crime families.  She tells them that she will be running things from now on, and when they pull out their guns, she sics her mutants on them.  When the killing is done, Karai tells Toshiro and Natsu that once she is done conquering Tokyo, she will return to New York.


BACK UP STORY:

Story and art: Sophie Campbell

"Prey, Part 4"

Koya struggles with the power of the talisman and considers giving up, falling to her death.  However, when the bird spirit within the talisman mocks her as being weak, Koya fights back and slays the spirit, gaining control over the talisman's power.


Now equipped with spectral wings, Koya swoops down and breaks up the fight between Bludgeon and Ocho.  She thanks Ocho for helping her find the will to fight the spirit of the talisman and gain control.  Koya then declares that she's ready for vengeance.


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT Universe #14.  A new storyline begins in TMNT Universe #16.

*The Kira no Ken can be translated as "The Sword of Hate".

*This issue was originally published with 3 variant covers: Cover A by Freddie Williams II, Cover B by Sophie Campbell, and Cover RI by Kaori Matsuo.


Review:

"Karai's Path" ended in a way I think we all sort of expected it to, but not in a way that disappoints (too much).  Karai has her groove back and rekindled her motivation to, presumably, inconvenience the Ninja Turtles.  By the looks of things, she's going to be building her own personal criminal empire from the ground up and we can look forward to her bringing that force back into the main series sometime within the next ten years (some of these villain factions move slowly).  If anything, we may end up getting a battle between Karai's faction and Splinter's Foot Clan, and that ought to be something to look forward to.

There is a bit of an out in the narrative that removes much of the agency from Karai's character.  When she parted ways with the TMNT, it was on a hopeful sort of note; maybe she wouldn't be a thorn in their side anymore.  But now she's being mind-controlled by the Kira no Ken, so any evildoing she commits in future stories can be easily brushed aside as "not her fault, it was the sword".  IDW's Ninja Turtles series does seem to have a problem with giving female villains authority over their actions; far too frequently, there's an escape clause that leaves the door open for them to weasel out of accountability.

Sort of like how Alopex was introduced as a killing machine that genuinely enjoyed torturing her victims.  But then it was revealed that Kitsune was mind-controlling her all along; Alopex's real personality, as evidenced in the issues after she was freed from Kitsune, seems to be that of a sweet-natured, giggling ditz.  Or on a less spiritual level, there's Jennika, who again was introduced as a cold-blooded murderer for several issues.  But then we got her origin story, which was an uninspired pity party about how tough her life was so it really isn't HER fault that she kills people.  She's the REAL victim!

I dunno, it's a trend that's always bugged me in fiction.  No one thinks twice about making male villains accountable for their cruel actions without any sort of convenient mind-control bypass or sob story background to relieve them of responsibility.  Female villains, however, seem to constantly get that "it wasn't her fault" Get Out of Accountability Free card.  I guess because writers want to leave the option open for female villains to become love interests for the male protagonists.  It's a shame, but if you give Karai agency over her horrible choices then you can't ship her with Leonardo later on.

Anyway, that tangent aside, this arc did do a lot of character building work for the formerly less interesting Foot Mutants.  We've got a bead on Bludgeon's personality, now, and Koya has come out of all this as a far more interesting foe.  Restoring her flight almost seemed like a copout, since much of her arc has been about coming to terms with her handicap, but the visual of the spectral wings almost makes up for it.  Ocho is kind of starting from ground zero as a character and I do hope they characterize her as more than a snarling monster that yells "KILL!"  I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Natsu also joins Karai's party to give it some extra zing.  Her devotion to honor is a little hokey, and now that I ruminate on it a bit more, seems counterintuitive to her introduction in part 1 of this storyline.  She opened fire on a target in a crowd of people and nearly gunned down an innocent bystander (who happened to be Karai).  Doesn't seem particularly honorable behavior to me.  Natsu's infatuation with "honor" seems more like something that came out of the blue as a convenience to the plot, not something that organically grew from the personality we'd witnessed beforehand.

As for the art, Campbell's layouts are all great and Peer's colors are still top notch.  But man, as nice as everything else in this book looks, it's really hard to appreciate the finer things when the character model for the lead is so monstrously ugly.  I'm sorry, but this Karai looks nothing like the Karai we'd been seeing in any other issue of the IDW TMNT books.  For pity's sake, her nose seems to get bigger with every panel...







I don't know where that design choice came from, but I hope it isn't a keeper.

Overall, I think I'm being a little hard on "Karai's Path", but I do think it stumbled in the home stretch.  There are some great elements introduced in this storyline, along with solid character development and excellent artwork (save for Karai's face), but the cheats in the writing are also rather obvious.  You've got a character who shoots bystanders suddenly become obsessed with honor when it proves convenient to the plot, and you've got that old IDW standby of "mystic mind-control" that will no doubt come in handy down the line when Karai needs to be absolved of all guilt for her evildoing.  I think it's a case where you notice the shortcomings more easily when everything else is so solid.